By Jeremy Edmondson
In 2013 I had the privilege of being one of the plenary speakers at the Grace Evangelical Society?s annual conference. My topic was "Biblical Ecclesiology in a Postmodern Age," which is layman's terms means, "the desperate need to return to the Bible as the source for how we should think about the church because everyone is starting to get crazy with it." During my talk, I made reference to a quote by Dr. Earl Radmacher that was taken from his outstanding book The Nature of the Church, along with a few comments regarding my affection for his zeal for the Word and the sound exegesis that he always brought to the pulpit with him. I had only met Dr. R briefly in 2008 at another conference, but I was so enamored with his passion for the Word of God and the "spot-on" points that he was making that I immediately began to read a great deal of what he had written and slowly, but surely began adding vital volumes to my library.
A few weeks after the conference, I received a phone call from a man who told me that Dr. R would like to speak with me on the telephone and that he would be calling me shortly. It not every day that world- class theologian and scholar calls up a mediocre-minded pastor from southern Indiana, so you can imagine my surprise that a man who had virtually discipled me through his writings wanted to speak with me. An hour or so later he called, and immediately I was on my best behavior! I remember his gracious tone and his encouraging words. He had enjoyed my talk from the conference and he took the time to tell me to "press on" and to look "only to the Word of God." I was eating it up like a kid in a candy store!
Then, his gentle tone got serious, and yet, still gentle. He said, "Jeremy, let me tell you, the Lord Jesus used stories to communicate some of the most profound concepts that have ever entered into the human mind." This was a rebuke! You see, in my talk on the state of the modern church, I had made a few references to how many of today's pastors were relying on stories in much of their preaching. Dr. R let me know quickly that I was in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water and that I would do well to watch myself and how I am communicating such a concept. He rebuked me! And I loved him for it. I have been rebuked by older men before, but never had an older man rebuked me with love. Dr. R then proceeded to encourage me to study the Word and remain faithful to the congregation that God had placed in my care. He ended up sending me a free book and I have kept the envelope to this day, simply because I know that he was not obligated to call, share, rebuke, or send me a gift, but he did. Dr. Radmacher modeled grace, something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Thank you Dr. Radmacher for your years of faithful service. I wish I would have been able to have a face to face conversation with you, but I can always glean wisdom from your writings, as they consistently point me to the Word of God for answers.If you would like to share your experiences or what you learned from Dr. Radmacher, please share it on our Facebook page.